ONE of Winchester’s hidden treasures is set for a makeover this year, as villagers bid for a long distance footpath.

Residents from Alresford, Kings Worthy and Itchen Valley hope to create the path on the route of the old Mid Hampshire Railway, or the Watercress Line which closed in 1973.

County councillor Jackie Porter assisted in setting up the Friend of the Line group in May 2012, and volunteers have been researching the length of the line, in hopes of making it an official footpath.

On January 12 they named the line the Watercress Way.

The group submitted their idea to Winchester City Council and are now in talks with the South Down National Park and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Conservation volunteers to get more people clearing undergrowth, and making the path a real possibility.

Cllr Porter said the Friend of the Line group has grown considerably over the past year, and now includes three ecologists who are preserving a high quality habitat along the line for flora and fauna.

She said: “We decided to give the long distance route a name, The Watercress Way, so we can start up a website and attract funding and interest. There are traces of the old railway at various points along the Way.”

Although there are houses have been built at several places along the line, and certain sections are owned by various authorities, the group have made clear that they do not expect to take over anybody’s land.

Cllr Porter added: “We know there will be places where the path can’t follow the old line exactly, but we hope the route will give a sense of the old railway and eventually connect from Alresford through Kings Worthy to Sutton Scotney.”

The original plan for the line however, wasn’t inclusive of the Sutton Scotney area, but has since attracted so much interest from the villagers that the Friend of the Line group added it to their proposal.

They are planning a long distance walk in June.

For more information, or to sign up to the Friend of the Line group, or email